As a Californian born and bred, I obviously LOVE Mexican food. My husband likes to make fun of the fact that the majority of my cooking has either tomatoes and/or cilantro (coriander) in it – whether it’s Mexican, some other Latin dish, Vietnamese or Italian. But when you grow up eating the goooood stuff, you become addicted. I go through major withdrawals when I’m in the UK. It’s just not the same. But I spotted this CNN article and thought it was totally appropriate. There are hole in the wall Mexican ‘delis’ (like the one a small road surrounded by farms not far from my parents’ house) and there are gourmet Mexican restaurants like The Mission in Scottsdale (who had a stand at the BBQ Festival I went to last year). The hole in the wall is simple with its classic burritos done so well and SO economically. Then there’s The Mission with anything from Green Chile Duck Confit in a sultana serrano peanut mole to Duck Carnitas Empanada with duck, foie gras, orange, habanero, oregano, mushroom and queso oaxaca. But like any cuisine, there are times to experiment with the gourmet and there are times to treat yourself to some straight forward classics done well. This reminds me I’ve been dying to have a good tamale!
Archive for August, 2011
Every chef book I’ve read and each of my chef instructors in school always talk about the food from their childhood. It’s funny how so many of us, even if you’re not a chef or foodie, have childhood memories that involve or center around food. Most of my childhood was spent in the San Francisco Bay Area – an absolutely beautiful and diverse place. As I’ve gotten older, I always feel so fortunate to have grown up in a place where cultures collide and people are genuinely interested in each other. There are, of course, conflicts but again I was fortunate to not be too exposed to any sort of intolerance. I grew up with friends from many races and religions. And from that exposure, I developed a great love for learning about others. Every culture, every community is so unique. This upbringing also inspired me to travel the world. Even as a young teenager I fulfilled my dream of seeing the Eiffel Tower and eating a “real” croissant. Of course it all comes back to the food!
So back to why I’ve decided to write – recently my lovely sister and her fiance moved back to the Bay Area where they both grew up. I went to visit them and wanted to share some photos from the trip. It was funny though being back in the Bay as an adult as my parents left California while I was in college. It was the same yet much more sophisticated than I remembered. All the food was delicious, rich, complex yet incredibly fresh. I have already posted some Yelp reviews for two of the places, so I’ve included the links for them. But hope you enjoy the pictures!
First up – Cafe Des Amis. (Click here for my Yelp review). This place was very charming. It was one of those French restaurants that is trying to be authentic which it did a pretty good job at without trying too hard. We had a cozy table in the back next to the fire – very romantic actually. Our whole group was really happy with our dishes (steaks, mussels, lamb, escargot, salmon) but we were even happier with the drinks! They make a great Moscow Mule!
For brunch the next morning, my sister and I managed to drag ourselves (and I’m so glad we did!) to Foreign Cinema. My sister’s friend had been to a wedding there and raved about their brunch. They were right.. I’m only sad that I can’t go back to try more dishes!
I could dream about these turnovers all night long! The chicken briwatt tasted just like the traditional Moroccan pastilla that I’ve written about. It’s such a surprising combination of flavors. I love it when food catches you off guard like that – just when you think something should be sweet, it’s even better savory!
Hope you’ve enjoyed the photos! What have you been eating lately??
Recently I returned to New Orleans – just about a year and a half after my first visit. I was delighted to find all the classics were still there and that not a thing had changed. The beignets at Cafe Du Monde were still hot and crispy and still worth the line. Deanie’s fried catfish dinner was still the freshest catfish I have ever had – melt in your mouth and not greasy crispy goodness. And of course – you can’t go to New Orleans and not have a muffuletta. A muffu-what?? Even if you don’t like olives, I bet you’ll LOVE this sandwich. It’s all about the quality of ingredients though. And if you’re in town, you must get your muffuletta from the original place Central Grocery. Now I admit it’s a bit of a tourist attraction, but I think it’s worth it.
In summary, a muffuletta is a sandwich made on a round Sicilian sesame bread with a chopped olive salad (olives, celery, cauliflower, carrot, etc) and layers of capicola, salami, pepperoni, ham, emmentaler and provolone. The bread is very similar to focaccia but not as greasy. Although this isn’t a warm sandwich (my usual preference), it’s fresh, crunchy, salty and full of flavor. Apparently I was eating my sandwich so well that some news photographer insisted on taking multiple photos of my sandwich. He said it was “smiling”! This is a definite must if you love sandwiches!